Movie Review: ’21’

By Amy Gray |

When Ben Campbell, a graduating M.I.T. student, is accepted to Harvard’s graduate school, one of the most prestigious and expensive programs in the country—at the price of $300,000—he hopes that there is a better way to find funds than having to borrow mother’s life savings or work part-time in a local menswear store.

For Campbell (Jim Sturgess), the answer to this dilemma is to use his brilliant mind, superior math skills, and a plane ticket to Las Vegas.

“21,” a college-genre movie that can be categorized with films like “Accepted” or “The Perfect Score,” is a story of “What will it take to reach the higher-education school of choice?”

In this case, the protagonist resorts not to gambling but to a sly, shockingly legal technique known as counting cards- the risky but nearly foolproof way to score millions of dollars in blackjack.

Every weekend, he catches a flight out of cold and gray Massachusetts with a team of card-counting M.I.T. students led by their math professor, Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey), all destined for Vegas.

For hours at a time, the team sits at blackjack tables and utilizes their crafty system of hand gestures and word cues to indicate when to play, how much to bet, and when to back off.

As Campbell becomes absorbed in this world where endless money is just the flip of a card away, he begins to push the limits and gets hit with several life lessons.

He realizes the value of the people in his life, learns whom he can and can’t trust, and discovers the powerful, destructive nature of greed in this edgy, tension-packed film.

Rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content including partial nudity; 122 minutes.

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